CAFE Brief 08/23: Family detention, Epstein’s will, and Pantaleo’s firing


CAFE Brief 08/23: Family detention, Epstein’s will, and Pantaleo’s firing


In this Brief . . . 

  • New immigration policy seeks to indefinitely detain migrant families seeking asylum pending the outcome of their immigration hearings.

  • Jeffrey Epstein executed his will just two days before his suicide naming his brother as the sole beneficiary and some 20 MCC correctional officers have been subpoenaed.

  • Officer Daniel Pantaleo fired and Sergeant Kizzy Adonis stripped of vacation days for their involvement in the death of Eric Garner in 2014.

Plus: Trump’s taxes, Planned Parenthood funding, political “disloyalty” at State Department, proving discrimination in housing, Corey Lewandowski’s testimony

No sign of the news cycle slowing down, and we’re on top of it. Let’s dive in!

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 13: A line of people awaits entry to the trial of Officer Daniel Pantaleo at One Police Plaza on May 13, 2019 in New York City. Officer Pantaleo faces charges of using a chokehold on and intentionally restricting the breathing of Eric Garner, who died as a result of the altercation. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Indefinite family detention policy

On Wednesday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan announced a new policy that would allow migrant families entering the country illegally to be detained indefinitely in family residential centers while their immigration cases are being decided. The goal of the government’s proposed rule is to discourage migrants from entering the country illegally, in light of the steep increase in border crossings by Central Americans fleeing violence, instability, and poverty. The new rule is set to go into effect 60 days from today, although expected court challenges will probably delay that from happening.

The rule aims to replace a key aspect of the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, which limits the time migrant children can spend in detention to 20 days. Under the terms of the Flores Settlement Agreement, the proposed rule must be approved by U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee who is currently overseeing the long-running case. The government will have seven days to file a brief seeking Judge Gee’s approval, and if she refuses, the administration can appeal her decision, a process that could drag on for months or even years, according to legal experts.

Meanwhile, NBC News has obtained a draft of an executive order that would allow states and cities to reject refugees who have been cleared for resettlement by the federal government. The order would exempt spouses or children of refugees already settled in that location.

Epstein’s autopsy & will

Last Friday, the New York City Chief Medical Examiner announced that Jeffrey Epstein’s cause of death in a Manhattan jail was suicide by hanging. Since then, reports by The New York Times have described Epstein’s final hours, painting a bleak picture of a man who tried to leverage his wealth to increase his privileges behind bars. The motive for his suicide remains unknown, specifically whether he killed himself because he couldn’t bear incarceration or because he couldn’t fathom having his whole life publicly exposed during the trial.

Court documents filed on Monday in the U.S. Virgin Islands indicate that Epstein established a trust for his $500 million fortune—“The 1953 Trust” apparently named for his birth year—the same day the will was signed on August 8, just two days before he killed himself. The will lists his brother, real estate magnate Mark Epstein, as the sole beneficiary, but with at least five civil cases against Epstein’s estate, it is unclear what will ultimately happen to the assets.

While the FBI and the Justice Department’s Inspector General continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death, Attorney General William Barr took the extra step of replacing the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Hugh Hurwitz, with Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, who previously served in the position from 1992 to 2003. CNN reports that some 20 correctional officers at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) where Epstein was held were subpoenaed last week to testify before a grand jury.

The Eric Garner case

New York City Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill announced his decision on Monday to fire Officer Daniel Pantaleo for applying a chokehold in his attempt to arrest Eric Garner in 2014. An NYPD court found that the prohibited maneuver was “a significant factor in triggering an asthma attack” that killed Mr. Garner and “constituted a gross deviation from the standard of conduct established for a New York City police officer.” Commissioner O’Neill said that he agreed with the court’s findings and recommendation, saying: “It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve.”

Bringing the police disciplinary case to a close, it was reported on Wednesday that NYPD Sergeant Kizzy Adonis, the only other officer implicated in the 2014 incident, pleaded guilty to departmental charges of failure to supervise the scene where Garner died. In exchange, Adonis will not face a departmental trial and will lose 20 vacation days.

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ST LOUIS, MO – MAY 31: The exterior of a Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center is seen on May 31, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. In the wake of Missouri recent controversial abortion legislation, the states’ last abortion clinic is being forced to close by the end of the week. Planned Parenthood is expected to go to court to try and stop the closing. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)


  • Trump’s tax returns. In a court filing on Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee revealed that a federal employee made “credible allegations” that “the process for auditing Presidents’ tax returns may be subject to improper influence.” The allegation was made in a motion requesting that the court order the Treasury Department to turn over President Trump’s tax returns in compliance with congressional subpoenas.
  • Title X withdrawal. Planned Parenthood will stop accepting moneyfrom Title X, a federal family-planning program, in light of a “gag rule” introduced by the Department of Health and Human Services in February 2019 that bars doctors from making referrals for abortion procedures. This rule is currently being challenged in the courts by a few organizations as well as 21 states.
  • Trump loyalty. The State Department’s inspector general released a report last week concluding that high-ranking department officials berated career employees over their political views and retaliated against them for their perceived disloyalty to the Trump administration. David Hale, State Department Under Secretary for Political Affairs, wrote in a response that the department had already taken action to address management and performance deficiencies, adding that “further discipline will be considered.”
  • Housing discrimination. The Housing and Urban Development Department is planning to roll back an Obama-era regulation aimed at combating discriminatory practices in the housing industry that have a particularly adverse impact on minorities. The new rule substantially raises the burden of proof for parties claiming discrimination.
  • Executive privilege. In response to a congressional subpoena served on Thursday to former campaign aide Corey Lewandowski, White House officials have been engaged in preliminary discussions about invoking executive privilege to prevent Lewandowski from testifying although he never served in the Trump administration.

Further Reading

“Giuliani Renews Push for Ukraine to Investigate Trump’s Political Opponents,” The New York Times, 8/21/2019

“Former Manafort deputy Rick Gates testifies against Greg Craig,” Politico, 8/22/2019

“Legal Constraints Hobble FBI’s Fight Against Domestic Terror,” The Wall Street Journal, 8/22/2019

“Hate crime reports have soared in D.C. Prosecutions have plummeted,” The Washington Post, 8/21/2019

“Trump to release gun control proposals, including background check updates,” Politico, 8/21/2019

“Dems accuse DOJ of trying to hobble Congress’ oversight to protect Trump,” Politico, 8/20/2019

“Trump falsely claims Google ‘manipulated’ millions of 2016 votes,” CNN, 8/20/2019

“Weinstein Wants Trial Moved Because of His 11,000 Page Six Mentions,” The New York Times, 8/20/2019

“Mueller-targeted Russian firm seeks April 2020 trial,” Politico, 8/20/2019

“Anthony Scaramucci: I was wrong about Trump. Here’s why,” The Washington Post, 8/19/2019

“Justice Dept. again sides with Trump over House in personal financial records fight,” CNN, 8/19/2019

“House Intel Committee could bolster Dem case for impeaching Trump,” Politico, 8/16/2019

“Republicans block FEC probe of NRA’s Russia money and Trump,” MSNBC, 8/16/2019

Stay Informed,

Adrienne Cobb & the CAFE team: Tamara Sepper, Carla Pierini, Julia Doyle, Calvin Lord, Vinay Basti, and Aaron Dalton

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